Jason Smith

Pelicans Claim Christian Wood, Waive Jason Smith

5:37pm: The move is official, according to a tweet from the Pelicans.

4:10pm: The Pelicans picked up former Bucks forward Christian Wood on waivers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Jason Smith has been waived to create a roster opening, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Milwaukee parted with Wood on Monday to make room for Tim Frazier, who was signed to bolster the backcourt after an injury to Malcolm Brogdon. There was speculation that Wood might draw interest on the waiver wire because of the promise he showed in the G League and a $1,645,357 salary for next season that is non-guaranteed. He will receive $822,679 if he’s not waived before opening night, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. With the waiver claim, New Orleans inherits Wood’s $1,512,601 cap charge for this year, which is removed from the Bucks’ books.

Wood, 23, got into just 13 games during his time in Milwaukee, playing less than five minutes per night. He made a huge impact in the G League, averaging 29.3 PPG, 14.0 RPG, 2.4 APG and 2.2 BPG on 55.9% shooting in 28 games (35.3 MPG) for the Wisconsin Herd. He has previous NBA experience with the Sixers and Hornets.

Wood may get a greater chance to prove himself with the Pelicans, who are playing Anthony Davis on a limited schedule and are thinking about shutting down Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore for the rest of the season.

Smith finds himself on waivers after playing just two games for New Orleans following a trade from the Bucks last month. The 33-year-old was on his third team this season, playing six games for Milwaukee and 12 for Washington.

Pelicans Trade Nikola Mirotic To Bucks In Three-Team Deal

7:36pm: The three-team trade involving the Pelicans, Bucks, and Pistons is now official, according to press releases issued by New Orleans and Milwaukee. Milwaukee gets Mirotic, Detroit gets Maker, and New Orleans acquires two players and four draft picks, as detailed below.

11:57am: The Bucks are adding another shooter to their frontcourt, having reached an agreement to acquire Nikola Mirotic from the Pelicans, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

New Orleans will receive Jason Smith‘s expiring contract along with Stanley Johnson in exchange for Mirotic, Woj reports (via Twitter). According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter), the Pelicans will also receive four second-round picks as part of the deal.

A source tells Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that two of those selections will be the Wizards’ 2020 and 2021 second-rounders, while Tim Bontemps of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that Denver’s 2019 second-rounder and the Bucks’ 2020 second-rounder are also in the package.

Milwaukee just reached an agreement on Wednesday to acquire Johnson from the Pistons in exchange for Thon Maker, but that deal has yet to be completed. the Bucks wouldn’t be permitted to aggregate Johnson’s salary with another player’s contract for two months after acquiring him, so it looks the two deals will be turned into one three-team trade, which helps explain why Detroit and Milwaukee haven’t finalized their agreement yet.

For the Bucks, this deal represents an impressive response to the Sixers’ acquisition of Tobias Harris on Wednesday. While Mirotic isn’t as dynamic a player as Harris, he should fit in very nicely in Mike Budenholzer‘s system, which already features a pair of sharpshooting big men in Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova.

Mirotic, who will turn 28 next Monday, has been limited by injuries so far this season, but has been his usual productive self when he’s on the court, averaging 16.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG with a .447/.368/.842 shooting line in 28.9 MPG.

Mirotic is on an expiring contract, so the Bucks can add him to a list of free-agents-to-be that also includes Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez, and Malcolm Brogdon (restricted). Milwaukee will presumably attempt to retain as many of those players as possible in the offseason.

As for the Pelicans, their return for Mirotic won’t match the first-round pick they gave up for him a year ago, but they won’t take on any future salary, and one or two of those second-round picks could fall in the 30s.

They’ll also get a chance to take a look at Johnson, a former lottery pick who will be up for restricted free agency this summer. While the young wing never really blossomed into a reliable rotation player in Detroit, he still has some upside as a versatile defender, though he’d have to improve his shooting numbers to improve his value.

The Pelicans will have to open up a roster spot with another trade or cut in order to finalize the deal. The Bucks, on the other hand, will create an opening on their roster, though they’re now less than $1MM away from the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wizards, Bamba, Heat

While it may be a little too early to determine with certainty whether the Hornets will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer suggests in his latest mailbag that he expects the team to be more focused on improving this season’s roster than acquiring future assets. However, they’re unlikely to take on much salary in any deal, since they’re only about $3.4MM below the luxury tax threshold, Bonnell notes.

If the Hornets were to fall out of the playoff picture, they could explore the trade market for 2019 free-agents-to-be like Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky, per Bonnell. However, it would require a major slump to slip out of the playoff race in the East, where the ninth-seeded Heat have an 11-16 record.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • While the Wizards were something of a third wheel in last week’s trade that primarily featured the Cavaliers and Bucks, their involvement shouldn’t be overlooked. Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington explored the impact of Jason Smith‘s departure on the locker room and on Smith himself, while Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington spoke to Sam Dekker about becoming a Wizard.
  • Mohamed Bamba sat out the Magic‘s most recent game on Monday after violating team rules, head coach Steve Clifford said, per ESPN.com. “It’s just bad on my part, and I need to be better. I’ve got to be on time,” Bamba said. He’s expected to return to Orlando’s lineup on Thursday night against Chicago.
  • In a pair of articles for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman explores whether the Heat will be able to continue to find enough minutes and opportunities for both Justise Winslow and Derrick Jones if and when their roster is fully healthy.

Wizards Notes: Wall, Smith, Dekker

John Wall is blaming an injury for his one-point performance in Saturday’s loss at Cleveland, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Wall has been suffering from a bone spur in his left heel and was treated for the condition after the game.

“It’s just like a bone spur but today it got really hot,” Wall told Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). “Probably shouldn’t have played. That’s my fault. … I’ve had it for a while. It comes and goes from days where it’s hot and today it’s like I really couldn’t run.”

Wall had six assists, but missed all five of his shots from the field and was pulled from the game late in the third quarter. Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton took advantage of the matchup to score a career-high 29 points. More concerning to the Wizards than Saturday’s loss is how the condition will affect Wall for the rest of the season.

“Some days it’s great. Some days it’s bad,” he said. “It come and go. You know what I mean? You just got to monitor when it’s good and when it’s bad, don’t try to force the issue and play with that one because it’s kind of hard. You can’t run. Today it just got real hot. It didn’t get no better.”

There’s more news out of Washington:

  • Concerns about effort and focus have haunted the Wizards throughout their 11-15 start and Cleveland center Tristan Thompson suggested that was an issue again Saturday night, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic“Obviously every team that comes in here is going to feel very relaxed and feel like they don’t have to put their best foot forward,” Thompson said of facing the six-win Cavaliers. “I know how teams come in and approach us because we used to be that team that would approach teams that are in a different stage or got a lot of younger players.”
  • The Wizards lowered their potential tax bill by shipping Jason Smith to the Bucks for Sam Dekker, but the move wasn’t popular in the locker room, Buckner writes in a separate story. Smith was only averaging about 11 minutes per night, but was was well liked by his teammates, who viewed him as a supportive and calming presence. “If you can go through things of ups and downs and sporadic seasons, playing or not playing and still be that happy of an individual and cheer people on and just continue to be an overall good dude, why can’t everybody be that?” Kelly Oubre asked. “He really taught me how to be a good human being, to be honest.”
  • Coach Scott Brooks promises that Dekker will get a chance to earn playing time. In an video clip tweeted by the team, Brooks says he likes Dekker’s “motor” and “athleticism” and calls him a “developing shooter.”

Bucks Acquire George Hill From Cavs

DECEMBER 8, 9:00am: As part of the deal, the Wizards also removed the protections on the 2020 second-round pick they owe the Bucks, reports Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). In summation, the trade looks like this, as Smith tweets:

  • Bucks receive George Hill, Jason Smith, cash considerations (from Wizards), the Wizards’ 2021 second-round pick (from Cavaliers), and the protections removed on the Wizards’ 2020 second-round pick.
  • Cavaliers receive John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, the Bucks’ 2021 first-round pick (protections detailed below), the Bucks’ 2021 second-round pick, and the Wizards’ 2022 second-round pick.
  • Wizards receive Sam Dekker.

DECEMBER 7, 9:25pm: The trade is official, according to a Cavaliers press release. as relayed by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.

6:20pm: The Wizards have agreed to make it a three-team deal by acquiring Dekker for big man Jason Smith and a second-round pick, Wojnarowski tweets. The Cavs will swap a 2021 second-rounder with Washington for a 2022 second-rounder, Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets.

5:05pm: The Bucks have agreed to acquire veteran guard George Hill from the Cavaliers in exchange for guard Matthew Dellavedova, injured center John Henson and first- and second-round picks in 2021, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Cleveland is also sending forward Sam Dekker to Milwaukee, Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets.

As always, the deal is contingent on the players passing physicals.

The Bucks will save approximately $18MM for the 2019/20 season with this move, which will increase their flexibility to make more moves next summer, Wojnarowski notes in a separate tweet. With Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe both on track to become free agents in July, that extra flexibility could be crucial.

The Cavs are showing a continued willingness to take on salary in order to acquire future assets, Wojnarowski adds.

There was a sense of urgency in getting this deal done on Friday. These players are now eligible to be aggregated on the February 7th trade deadline, Wojnarowski points out in another tweet. Thus, these players can be combined with other contracts in a deadline deal.

While Cleveland is technically acquiring Milwaukee’s 2021 first-rounder in the deal, it’s likely to get pushed back to 2022. That’s because the first-rounder that Milwaukee owes Phoenix next summer almost certainly won’t change hands until 2020, as it’s protected 1-3 and 17-30 for 2019. Since teams can’t trade future first-round picks in back-to-back seasons, the Cavs would have to wait an extra year to get their pick from Milwaukee.

There are protections on the first-round pick going to Cleveland, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link). The first-rounder is protected 1-14 in 2021; 1-10 in 2022; 1-10 and 25-30 in 2023; and 1-8 in 2024. If still not conveyed by then, it converts to two second-rounders in 2025.

Hill is making $19MM this season but his $18MM salary for next season doesn’t become fully guaranteed until July 1. Only $1MM is guaranteed, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Milwaukee will almost assuredly cut him loose before then, eating his $1MM partial guarantee. However, Hill can be a contributor this season on a playoff contender.

He joins a guard rotation that includes Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell. The addition of Hill would seemingly reduce Donte DiVincenzo‘s minutes.

Henson is making $11.3MM this season and has a $10.5MM guarantee for next season in the final year of his deal. He recently underwent wrist surgery and could miss the rest of the season.

Dellavedova, who will begin his second stint in Cleveland, is making $9.6MM this season and the same amount next season.

Dekker is making $2.76MM and Milwaukee would have to extend a $3.9MM qualifying offer after the season to make him a restricted free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards Notes: Leonsis, Beal, Satoransky, Brown

A couple of recent comments by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis suggest he is running short on patience with the team’s 1-7 start, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Leonsis, who attended Saturday’s debut game for the G League’s Capital City Go-Go, responded to a comment from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about increased scoring around the league. “They just have to play us,” Leonsis said about teams wanting to score more points.

Leonsis was still frustrated after watching his team surrender 79 points in the first half — and 134 overall — in Friday’s loss to the Thunder. “When you score 125 points and you’re losing by 25, it usually says you need to play a little bit of defense,” he said afterward. “Right now, we really have to get a structure in place and especially defend the three-ball.”

Leonsis issued a “no-excuses” ultimatum to the organization before the start of the season, making it clear that he expected a title contender. Hughes notes that Leonsis has a right to want a return on his investment after giving the team a $133MM payroll, a highly paid head coach and a newly built, state-of-the-art practice facility.

There’s more today out of Washington:

  • The Wizards are paying the price for years of failing to make bold moves, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic. They traded away a lottery pick in 2009 and passed on the chance to get Stephen Curry; they let a team leader in Paul Pierce get away and replaced him with Jared Dudley; and they refused to admit that last year’s problems went beyond John Wall‘s extended absence with a knee injury. An unidentified scout predicts major changes in Washington once the season ends, saying, “April 9, “That’s it for these guys.”
  • All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal says the team has to ignore the negativity in order to turn the season around, Lee shares in the same piece. Beal is putting together his best season, posting a 23.1/4.0/3.8 line through eight games, but it hasn’t translated into victories. “I’m a leader of this team,” he said. “I’ve been here for seven years. I refuse to have any type of ship sinking. I can’t let it sink without fighting.”
  • Hughes offers several suggestions for coach Scott Brooks to shake things up in a separate story. His ideas include changing the starting lineup, giving more minutes to Tomas Satoransky or rookie Troy Brown and offering Jason Smith or Thomas Bryant a chance to crack the rotation.

Wizards Notes: Brown, Mahinmi, Meeks, Go-Go

Rookie swingman Troy Brown has multiple skills and can handle multiple positions, but he’ll have to battle for playing time at each one, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 15th player selected in this year’s draft, Brown excels at handling the ball, passing, rebounding and playing defense. The Wizards were happy with his performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he spent time at point guard as well as his more natural positions of shooting guard and small forward.

However, the 19-year-old won’t have an easy path toward getting minutes at any of those spots. All-stars John Wall and Bradley Beal are entrenched as the starting backcourt, and Austin Rivers was picked up in an offseason trade to provide depth. Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre will see most of the playing time at small forward, along with free agent addition Jeff Green.

Hughes suggests that Washington may see Brown as a long-term prospect and could use him at both the G League and NBA levels this season.

There’s more out of Washington:

  • The Wizards got to see more of backup center Ian Mahinmi last season, but not enough to justify his sizable contract, Hughes states in a separate piece. Injuries forced Mahinmi to miss 51 games in his first season after signing a four-year, $64MM deal, but he rebounded to play 77 games last year. He will remain the backup center after Washington signed Dwight Howard to replace Marcin Gortat, who was traded to the Clippers. Howard averages more minutes per game, which will limit Mahinmi’s role, as will the use of smaller lineups that could feature Markieff Morris or Green at center.
  • Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith will both be trying to improve after disappointing seasons, Hughes adds in another story. Meeks appeared in 77 games last year after two injury-filled seasons, but his numbers were down sharply in every category from his best years. He will start this season by serving the remaining 19 games of a 25-game suspension for a violation of the league’s drug program. Smith was healthy last year, but was only used in 33 games, and the addition of Green will continue to block his playing time. Both players will be free agents next summer.
  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post chronicles today’s tryouts for the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s new G League affiliate. Ninety-three players showed up in hopes of winning one or two invitations to the new team’s training camp.

Wizards’ Jason Smith Opts In For Next Season

JUNE 30th, 8:04am: Smith has officially opted in, according to the RealGM transactions log.

MAY 16th, 4:20pm: Wizards center/power forward Jason Smith has exercised his $5.45MM option for next season, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

The 32-year-old had a player option as part of a three-year, $16MM contract he signed as a free agent in 2016. He appeared in just 33 games this season, averaging 3.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per night.

Smith’s decision pushes the Wizards above the $119MM mark in guaranteed salary for next season, dangerously close to the projected $123MM luxury tax. Washington is still waiting on a decision from Jodie Meeks, who can opt out of a $3,454,500 salary.

Draft Rumors: Nuggets, Trades, Cavs, Wizards

The Kings (No. 2), Hawks (No. 3), and Grizzlies (No. 4) all consider to explore the possibility of trading down in the draft, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Monday night on the network’s Mock Draft Special (Twitter link via Sagar Trika). According to Wojnarowski, the Clippers are one team looking to move up and so are the Nuggets, who would love to get into the top five or six (Twitter link via Trika).

Although we hear whispers about possible trades in the lottery every year, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) gets the sense that this year could be a little different. According to Mannix, there’s a “growing sense” among many team executives that there could be some major deals completed early in the draft.

Here are several more draft-related rumors worth relaying, with 2018’s big night just two days away:

  • Wojnarowski passed along a few more draft tidbits during ESPN’s Mock Draft Special, per Trika (all Twitter links). According to Woj, the Magic are high on both Trae Young and Collin Sexton, there’s strong mutual interest between Mikal Bridges and the Sixers, and the Warriors will be looking to buy a second-round pick in the 30s.
  • Multiple sources, including NBA execs, agents, and scouts, believe that the Cavaliers will select Michael Porter Jr. if he’s on the board at No. 8, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. However, the odds of Porter still being available at that point seem to be dwindling.
  • The Wizards are letting teams know that they’re open to trading down from No. 15 if a team is willing to take on one of Washington’s expiring contracts, a league source tells Ben Standig of The Sports Capitol. Marcin Gortat ($13.57MM) and Jason Smith ($5.45MM) look like a couple of the club’s prime trade candidates.
  • Jake Fischer and Jeremy Woo of SI.com spoke to 10 anonymous scouts around the NBA to get their thoughts on Luka Doncic, Trae Young, the Cavaliers‘ pick, and several more draft-related topics.

John Wall Displeased With Wizards’ Roster?

Fresh off a loss to the Raptors in Game 6 of the First Round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Wizards’ point guard John Wall spoke at length on Saturday about changes he’d like to see to the Wizards’ roster next season, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. When asked what type of players should be added to the roster, Wall pulled no punches, yet was quick to assure that his postseason evaluation was not directed at any particular teammates.

“There’s a lot that we can use. I really don’t have to say certain positions. There are certain things that people who have been around the team understand what we could use to help our team. It’s not throwing shade to anybody that is on our team because everyone that is on our roster gave everything they have to make it work and fit with the team, but at the same time, when it’s not working and then you try and you try and you try and it keeps failing over and over, then you have to make certain adjustments and certain changes.”

Wall further elaborated, telling reporters he is in support of the Wizards bringing in an “athletic big”, which could of course be interpreted as a slight at Marcin Gortat, who clashed with Wall when Wall was injured earlier this season, and little-used big man Ian Mahinmi who, in hindsight, was grossly overpaid in the spend-happy summer of 2016. Combined, Gortat and Mahinmi will make just north of $29.5MM next season.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, adding worthwhile free agents this offseason, per Wall’s imploring, will be no easy task. Washington already has nearly $116MM tied up in guaranteed contracts for 2018/19, not counting player options for Jason Smith and Jodie Meeks. Should both players opt in, the Wizards payroll would reach $124.8MM – $1.8MM more than next year’s projected luxury tax threshold of $123MM and nearing the apron – before free agency even begins.

Given that the $124.8MM figure only includes 10 players, the Wizards best tool will likely be their taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected to be about $3.3MM less than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception and limited to three seasons rather than four. Players looking to cash in on a MLE deal this offseason stand to make about an additional $19.2MM over the life of a non-taxpayer MLE contract, thereby lessening the Wizards’ chances of luring meaning free agents to the nation’s capital this summer. For his part, Wall thinks players should nevertheless entertain the idea of coming to Washington.

“I think those guys that are watching and seeing understand what they can add and what we might need to make our team better to finally get over the second round or get through the first round like we didn’t this year.”